Update: Maclaren declared bankruptcy in 2012, which we covered on our blog. The company appears to be using bankruptcy to sidestep paying legal judgements to parents whose babies were injured by strollers recalled in 2009.
After an uproar, Maclaren agreed to pay product liability claims from defective strollers. (The company has not returned our emails asking for comment or clarification on this matter.)
We find these legal machinations disturbing and as a result, no longer recommend the brand. Below is an archived review of our last take on Maclaren. However, at this point, we would recommend parents steer clear of the stroller brand.
Maclaren is the brand with British roots that specializes in premium-priced, high-quality umbrella strollers made from lightweight aluminum.
Founded in 1965 by a British test pilot, Maclaren’s strollers were a sharp departure from the bulky prams that were the norm back then. By inventing a lightweight stroller that folded up to the size of an umbrella, Maclaren appealed to a generation of mobile parents who wanted to take their strollers on planes, subways, etc.
Maclaren’s first efforts to crack the U.S. market were centered on the East Coast, appealing to New Yorkers and Bostonians who needed sturdy yet lightweight strollers that could be hauled up and down subway station stairs. In the last decade, Maclaren has expanded its market by rolling out the brand nationwide to chain stores like Target and Buy Buy Baby.
Most Maclaren strollers run $200 to $300. So, you might be wondering, why buy a Maclaren when you can find a cheap umbrella stroller for under $100 in discounters? Maclaren fans point out these strollers are much more durable, lighter in weight and packed with more urban-friendly features (one-hand folds) than the competition. As a result, Maclaren strollers can last for more than one child and have resale value. Pop onto Craigslist and search for Maclaren versus Evenflo or Graco strollers . . . you’ll see what we mean.
The models. Okay, let’s take a deep breath. Maclaren offers EIGHT models, so there is much to cover. There will be a quiz at the end of this review.
FYI: Maclaren quotes weights for its strollers without adding in the canopy or mesh shopping basket. Hence, you’ll need to add a couple pounds to each of weights you see online to compare apples to apples with other brands.
Maclaren’s entry-level model, the Volo ($130, 9.4 lbs.) is a super light, stripped down stroller. You get a canopy, five-point harness and mesh seat and basket—but that’s about it.The Volo does include a removable seat cushion.
A more full-featured model from Maclaren is their Triumph, ($185) which weighs 12 lbs. and features a fully enclosed protective hood and one-hand fold. This seat does have a two-position recline (it is designed for babies three months and up).
Next up is the Quest Sport ($210 to 270, 12.9 lbs.), which adds more padding, a four-position full seat recline, an extendable footrest, height adjustable handles and included rain cover.
The Techno XT ($270 to $340, 15 lbs.) is the top of the line Maclaren—it features the most padding, a flip-down sun visor and three-position adjusting handles that can be extended to a height of 42 inches. And yes, Maclaren throws in a cup holder for the Techno, which also has upgraded wheels and reflective trim. The Techno XLR ($360 to $395, 16.5 lbs.) is an inch and a half wider than the Techno XT. You can also use this stroller for a child who weights up to 65 lbs.—10 lbs. more than most other Maclarens.
Maclaren sells two side-by-side strollers, the Twin Triumph ($220 to 300, 23.4 lbs.) and the Twin Techno ($385 to $445, 26.9 lbs.). The basic difference between these models: the Twin Techno is more plush and comes with a boot, head support and upgraded canopy. Parents of twins rave about these strollers, which are among the best side-by-side models on the market. Maclaren’s doubles are good for older child/infant needs as well.
The latest edition to the Maclaren line is the Globetrotter. This 10.6 lb. stroller includes a rain cover and partial, mutli-position seat recline for $160. Since the seat doesn’t fully recline, this stroller is recommended for babies six months and older.
FYI: Maclaren sells a variety of “exclusive” versions of its strollers on its web site. These have special fabric patterns and some are charity versions, where a portion of the proceeds goes to a non profit (example the Charley’s Fund Triumph). Maclaren also sells “StyleSets” of their strollers that include accessories like diaper bags. The latest addition to the exclusive line-up is a BMW version, complete with a little BMW logo on the harness.
One key accessory in the Maclaren line: a $20 universal stroller organizer that fits on the back handles—it includes two bottle pockets that can hold drinks, a cell phone pocket and a mesh storage bag. This helps address parent complaints that Maclarens lack adequate storage. They also offer new eco-liners made of corn, bamboo, organic cotton or recycled polyester. Cost: $40 to $75.
One important caveat to this line: all Maclaren strollers lack napper or bumper bars on the front of the seat. Yes, these models all have five-point harnesses to keep baby securely inside the strollers, but the absence of a napper bar will turn off some parents.
Our view. Maclaren suffered a major black eye in 2009 when they recalled over a million strollers after the company received a dozen reports of finger amputations—kids who got their fingers caught in a hinge when the stroller was folded or unfolded. The company shipped out a hinge cover that solved the hazard.
Yes, it is a problem when you recall your entire production from the last ten years . . . and Maclaren struggled to contain the PR damage during the early days of the recall, when their web site crashed and phone lines were jammed.
A few caveats to Maclaren. First, while this brand still trumpets its British heritage, Maclaren switched all its production to China back in 2001. Maclaren is no more British than Bugaboo is Dutch or Graco is American—all these strollers are made in China (ok, Bugaboo is made in Taiwan, but you get the idea). The point is, don’t buy this stroller thinking you are avoiding a made-in-China product.
Another issue: Maclaren’s finicky fold. Retailers who sell many Macs tell us you must be careful to correctly fold up the stroller (you have to make sure the backrest is completely upright and the canopy is back before folding). You never want to force or jam the stroller, which can bend the frame.
The other perennial Maclaren complaint: skimpy canopies. To address this issue, Maclaren has a $45 sun shade accessory. That’s nice, but when you pay $200+ for a stroller, you’d think that would be standard.
Bottom line: the massive safety recall was troubling to say the least. Among the most disturbing aspect: Maclaren knew about the finger amputation risk for several years before the 2009 recall. Baby Bargains Resale Rank: Poor. Rating: F